Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Operation Noah Annual Lecture

Last night I was invited to attend the Operation Noah Annual Lecture at Southwark Cathedral, which was this year given by Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. The cathedral was packed to hear him speak, and he took as his theme “The Climate Crisis: A Christian Response”.

He reflected on the story of Noah and the creation stories, and observed that humanity is meaningless if seen in isolation from all other living things, and that respect for humanity is bound up with respect for all created life.

Unchecked financial growth and consumerism isolates us from life and leads to the death of elements that make us distinctively human. Our addictive and self-destructive behaviour not only leaves the climate in crisis but damages our souls as well. Responding to the climate crisis gives us an opportunity to become truly human again, created in the image of God.

This does not mean preventing developing countries from trading their way out of poverty, but it does mean working towards a fairer and more equal world. He observed that societies that have the narrowest inequality gaps tend to be the happiest.

The possibility of life is never exhausted in creation, but as God gives us free will, it is for us to respond to the situation facing us, and we are offered the choice of deciding how genuinely human we want to be. Reconnecting and reconciling with an alienated world is at the heart of the Christian story.

He called on Governments to take a lead, not least at the forthcoming Copenhagen summit, but all of us need to play our part, with the smallest changes in the way that we live our life being important not just to reduce our carbon footprint, but also to stimulate a revival in our civic society. We will all benefit from a more balanced, healthy, caring approach to the environment.

The evening concluded with a plea from Mark Dowd of Operation Noah for financial support for this small campaigning organisation. They had literally £20,000 left in their budget and they risked having to make their small number of staff redundant if they weren’t able to secure significant funding in the near future.

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